Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matts

Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matts

In 2008, Aspen started her first year of college in a state far away from her home.  On the second day of college, she was raped. Rape is a major issue on college campuses.  Aspen reported the rape and there was a hearing.  The outcome typical and disappointing.  Aspen spiraled into a depression. She felt lost, unsupported, vulnerable and so much more.

In her depression and gloom, Aspen read John Muir's book Travels in Alaska about the Pacific Crest Trail.  Muir kept calling her name and inviting her to trek the entire trail, 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.  So that is what she did, she dropped out of college, enlisted the help of her parents and set off to walk in the woods for 6 months.

Aspen needed to heal and learn how to trust men and she was hoping that solitude and the long hike would make her stronger, would lead her to believe in herself and would set her on the path to her future.

This is the third memoir I have read about backpacking a trail in the United States.  I have read A Walk in the Woods and Cheryl Strayed's Wild and now Girl in the Woods.  I am a backpacker myself and have traversed the Superior Hiking Trail.  I am drawn to these types of books because I sometimes feel the call of the wild and the pull of the woods.  I would love to hike an entire trail but fear and age holds me back.  I admire Aspen Matis and Cheryl Strayed for hiking alone for miles and working through their "shit" on the Pacific Crest Trail.  

The woods is a healing force in Girl in the Woods.  This book had me turning pages as fast as I could. While reading Girl in the Woods,  the book kept invading my thoughts as I thought about the experiences of my high school students and Aspen's experience of being raped in college. The epidemic of rape on college campuses really disturbs me.

Aspen survived a rape and many trials and tribulations on her 2,650 mile hike across the United States.  She traversed extreme temperatures, snakes, deadly thirst and hunger, a vicious rumor, romance and so much more.  The Pacific Crest Trail led Aspen to believe in herself and she came to trust and love herself.  Girls in the Woods is a book about self-discovery and awakenings and it is awesome.  I loved it.

Did I mention there are full color photos inside and wonderful quotes or drawings that begin each chapter?

I am putting Girl in the Woods on my senior Non-Fiction reading list.  I wonder which lucky person will choose to read it.


Disclosure:  I received this book in exchange for an honest review.